Education

COVID-19 case prompts closure of ‘in-person opportunities’ for Anchorage’s middle school summer program at Dimond High

The Anchorage School District is temporarily ending in-person instruction for the Dimond Middle School In-Person Summer Learning program after someone associated with the program tested positive for COVID-19.

An individual at the district’s middle school summer program -- the district isn’t saying whether they’re a student or staff member -- held at Dimond High School tested positive for the virus at the nurse’s office on Thursday, according to an email sent out to families that day.

The person, who developed symptoms during the school day, was at school all week and “frequently interacted with individuals in classrooms and common use areas,” Anchorage School District spokesperson Lisa Miller said.

“Just based on those factors, the administration has decided to put a pause on in-person for the middle school program,” Miller said Friday. The shift was effective Thursday and runs through Aug. 1. There are 94 students enrolled in the middle school summer learning program.

All of the students in the middle school program are doing their work online, with in-person teacher support as needed, Miller said. The shift means a temporary “closure of in-person opportunities” made available so the students could socialize, participate in open gym, work with peers and have in-person teacher support, she said.

A high school summer program also held at Dimond High continues in person. A custodial crew cleaned the facility before students returned Friday, officials say.

The district identified 15 people as close contacts of the infected person in the middle school program.

Unvaccinated close contacts will be directed to have their child quarantine for 10 days, according to the email. Vaccinated close contacts do not have to quarantine unless they begin showing symptoms.

The district is asking other families to monitor their children for symptoms and get tested for COVID-19 if symptoms appear.

[Anchorage School District bulks up summer school offerings after more students fell behind during pandemic]

The action coincides with a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases around the state, including in Anchorage.

There are about 10,000 students enrolled in the summer learning program, Miller said. Fewer than 10 people associated with the program have tested positive for COVID-19 since June.

One preschool classroom in the district shifted to remote learning in June.

The district’s current guidance recommends unvaccinated people, including students, wear masks in school buildings. Information on policies for the fall semester’s in-person programs will be shared with district families soon, Miller said.

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